A Senate panel scolded Indian Health Service Director Robert McSwain for lax oversight of an inventory where more than 5,000 items, valued at about $15.8 million, have either been lost or stolen, including several electronic devices that housed unprotected patient information.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, called IHS an agency in desperate need of repair, and tied the poor performance at the management level to potential problems on the clinical side.
We have people dying in this country because they dont have adequate healthcare, he said. This GAO report, I think, is a scathing indictment of the way things have been done at the Indian Health Service.
In an investigation of IHS headquarters in Rockville, Md., and in other regions, the Government Accountability Office found that more than 2,300 technical pieces, including laptop computers, digital cameras and handheld wireless devices, valued at $4.6 million, have gone missing.
Additionally, the GAO found 116 documents that had been fabricated or falsified.
Greg Kurtz, managing director of forensic audits and special investigations at the GAO, said that broader problems at IHS center on the employees, the process for taking inventory and a system that lacks accountability.
There are good policies in place, but the people are not following them, Kurtz said.
McSwain, while deflecting some of the reports findingsincluding the cost and potential usage of the propertypledged to improve the system. I can assure you I will make the changes necessary for accountability, he said.